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#24 Les hippies avaient raison | Dr. Julie Holland

27 avril 2021

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2.20 – Why Julie identifies as an “MD”

3.30 – How Julie integrates biology with the spirituality and emotions in psychiatry

5.06 – The stigmatization of the word “soul” in the medical profession

6.54 – Julie discusses the debate between dualist vs. materialist – whether our brain comes from our soul or our soul comes from our brain. 

9.14 – Julie describes the adolescent brain and how it relates to her psychedelic advocacy.

10.50 – Dominique discusses the impact of the soul in her work. 

13.30 – Julie discusses profound experiences and psychedelics’ ability to promote dishabituation.

15.00 – Julie shares her thoughts on Ketamine.

16.46 – Dominique chimes in with her thoughts on Ketamine therapy.

17.46 – Julie opens up about how it feels to see cannabis and psychedelic medicines come to the spotlight.

19.18 – Julie’s perspective on dyad relationships and couplehood.  

20.34 – Julie discusses the feedback she received from her book title “Moody Bitches” and explains yin and yang energy. 

24.48 – The implications of the imbalance between yin and yang energies in today’s society. 

26.28 – Ronan’s reflection.

29.30 – Julie shares what she will likely be focusing on next in her research.

31.39 – Julie discusses her thoughts on today’s psychedelic renaissance. 

34.00 – Dominique shares her thoughts on today’s psychedelic renaissance. 

35.29 – Ronan, Julie, and Dominique discuss the need for equitable access to psychedelic therapies. 

37.34 – How labels create narratives about who a person is. 

38.54 – Dominique explains how trauma responses work. 

39.33 – Julie shares her thoughts on the trauma COVID-19 is creating and the difference in reactions.

42.00 – How Julie has dealt with the pandemic.

43.05 – The awarenesses that have come up for Dominique during the pandemic. 

45.35 – Julie’s most influential lessons from psychedelic experiences.

47.02 – Dominique’s most profound consciousness-expanding experiences. 

50.37 – Ronan’s key takeaways. 


Dr. Julie Holland: So, I mean, this issue of equity and access, you know, we should probably mention that there is such a thing as racial trauma that people who are who are experiencing micro or macro aggressions related to their race, like these people, are traumatized on a daily basis. And it would really be great if we can focus on sort of treating victims of racial trauma and to show that things like ketamine, assisted psychotherapy, psilocybin as a psychotherapy, MDMA, assisted psychotherapy, that these things really have the capacity to help heal. 

Dominique: And also building capacity in BIPOC communities to be the therapists and be the people working. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Definitely. 

Ronan: This is Field Tripping and a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host, Ronan Levy. It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Julie Holland to the podcast. Julie is a psychopharmacologist, psychiatrist and the author of the books Moody Bitches and Weekends at Bellevue, an absorbing memoir that recounts tragic, comic, and moving case file stories from nine years in the psychiatric emergency room in New York City. Julie is an advocate for the appropriate use of consciousness-expanding substances as part of mental health treatment. And she’s a medical advisor to MAPS studying MDMA assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of PTSD. Julie is a world wide expert on street drugs and has appeared on the Today Show over twenty five times, as well as Good Morning America, CNN, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Vice Media and more. Currently, she’s a forensic consultant for drug-related cases, a lecturer and in private practice in New York. I would also like to welcome Dr. Dominique Marsano back to the podcast. Dominique is Field Trip’s Chief Psychologist and joined us on the episode with Dan and Devojka from Operators. Dominic is also a big fan of Julie’s work. So this is going to be fun. 

Ronan: One of the questions that immediately came to mind as your name popped up, and this is just a totally random question, but you identify as Julie Holland, M.D., as opposed to Dr. Julie Holland. Is there any reason for that? Like, what’s the thought process? Because I know a lot of people are sensitive about being called doctor or comma M.D. and I’ve never really understood the narrative or the mindset behind it. And just wondering if that was a conscious decision or is it something you happened into? 

Dr. Julie Holland: I mean, it’s pretty longstanding. My grandfather used to jokingly call me Dr. Julie Holland, M.D., make sure he got it on both ends. It was like that important to him. But I think one of the reasons why I identify myself that way on podcast or webcasts is because sometimes I’m the only physician in the group and I like to identify myself as somebody who’s a medical doctor, who is a physician, who likes to think they understand the body in the way it works and that I’m going to have a different approach. I have a really biological approach as much as I like to talk about social and spiritual practices and things like that. So I’ve got a real sort of bio psych psycho pharm perspective. So I just sort of like to identify myself visually. So people know that that’s kind of probably where I’m coming from. 

Ronan: That makes a lot of sense. And you just touch on one of the things actually I want to get into later on. But as you raised it, let’s just dive into it, which is how do you integrate the biological and the spiritual, emotional, less objective kind of conversations? I mean, it’s I think the most important thing we can be doing and something. I’m a big proponent of not being a doctor. How do you draw those kind of lines and how do you integrate them? And I imagine it creates a lot of conflict at some point in your lives. And I’ll just give an example that is close to me, because it happened to one of my best friend’s wives. She’s a pediatric neurologist. She was a pediatric neurologist at Stanford, and she wanted to take her research in the direction of how touch and hugging after a traumatic incident can have an impact on the healing process. And Stanford basically said no and basically took away her tenure. And now she’s doing other things. And I think she’s truthfully much happier doing these other things. But it’s a story that I imagine resonates with you along your journey as well. So I would love to hear your thoughts about all of that kind of stuff. 

Dr. Julie Holland: It’s funny, one of my earliest papers in college was called The Need or Wish to be Held and how that plays out and behaviors. And it’s actually she should be studying it. I’m sorry that Stanford didn’t see how important touch and hugging and being held is to the body and our physiology and how resilient we are against trauma, I guess, to some degree. So, I mean, you were asking how I sort of reconcile the soul part with the medicine part. And the last book that I wrote, it’s called Good Chemistry. And the subtitle is The Science of Connection From Soul to Psychedelics. And it was really hard for me to put the word soul out there. I felt like I was outing myself by using the word soul as a psychiatrist. And whenever I was in my office talking to a patient, if I said soul, I would do the air quotes or I would say, I’m sorry, I’m using this word. I would some sort of like preface de-stigmatization of my using the word before I used it. And I learned over time that it was completely unnecessary and I should just chill out. People are comfortable with this idea between like Soul Cycle or the movie Soul or there’s so many products that have the word soul in it now that at least in terms of like our capitalist society, we’ve glommed on to soul and defanged it a little bit. But in psychiatry, it’s not a word you’re supposed to use, you’re not really supposed to talk about spiritual awakenings or spiritual processes or rituals or so many of the things that we inevitably talk about when we talk about psychedelics and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, you’re not really supposed to talk about in psychiatry. But one of the reasons that I wanted to put that subtitle on the cover is that it’s time we talk about it’s useful to talk about it. The truth is that there’s a certain amount of soul sickness that happens in people who have panic attacks or depression or addiction or compulsive eating or compulsive shopping or compulsive sexing and cheating on their partners. When you look at a lot of what drives pathological behavior, there is an element of sort of soul sickness. And if you can kind of get right with your purpose and get right with what brings you joy, what really has meaning to you, and that’s really what feeds your soul. And sorry, but that’s the reality. 

Ronan: One hundred percent. I agree with that. I’m curious to go a little bit further in terms of your personal perspectives, which is and it’s just something I find incredibly fascinating and the conversation that goes around it. But the idea of being a materialist or a dualist, which is like, do we come from our soul or is the soul kind of a construct of our brain? Because in my journey, in the work I’ve done personally, one of the hurdles that Erwin, the person I work with, really forced me to confront was it works a lot better when you just don’t kind of suspend your disbelief around the idea of a soul and a future self and a higher self and all that kind of stuff and actually get past it and lean into it and accept it as as a reality as opposed to a construct. And that’s certainly hard for me. And I’ve spent a lot of time with it. And I suspect it’s going to be extremely hard for a lot of people who are starting to go down this road. And I certainly think that psychedelics are a great springboard to maybe lead past the hurdle. But I think a really valuable tool is understanding people who have gone down this road and their perspectives and their honest truths around this, which is maybe it’s a construct or maybe it’s real. But curious to know where you land on on that question. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Well, it sounds like you’re sort of getting at what what my own perspectives or my own experiences have been. I mean, as much as I feel compelled to say that, I would like to acknowledge my privilege where I’m sitting from and also acknowledge that I’m sitting on land stolen from the Lenape people, I would also like to acknowledge that I have a history of getting in touch with what feeds my soul and what makes my heart sing from a pretty young age. When I was a teenager growing up in the seventies in the suburbs of Boston, I, I was a drug researcher really from a very early age, but I didn’t know that that’s what I was. And I certainly grew into my role being involved in psychedelic drug research and being a medical monitor. I was always obsessed with medical safety from a very young age. But I also had this sense that it wasn’t really playing with fire and that these were powerful tools that if you kind of read the manual and put on your goggles, you could avail yourself of the of the power of these tools. So I had lots of experiences in really formative years. People say, like I dabbled as an adolescent or whatever. But the truth is that adolescence is when a lot of stuff really kind of gels and sticks for people. And it’s an interesting time in brain development where your brain is sort of Marie Kondo-ing, does the spark joy or should we get rid of it? And there’s there’s a lot of pruning and cleaning up that goes on. You know, the prepubescent brain is just a sponge taking in a lot of stuff in a very deep level. And then the adolescent brain is sort of trying to make sense of it and getting rid of things and sort of narrowing the definitions of things. So for many people, that that early experimentation that happens like that stuff is in there pretty deep. I don’t know what you were doing in like seventh or eighth or ninth grade, but whatever you were doing then, you still know how to do that. I don’t know if you were learning to skateboard or play a saxophone, but I guarantee you that if you learned it around puberty, you could still do it in your sleep. Practically like that stuff really gets hard-wired and deep. And so for me, really, to be honest, some of the stuff that got hard-wired and deep was my ability to learn from from psychedelics. So I feel like I come about it naturally. I know it’s hard for people to sort of out themselves as psychonauts. 

Ronan: You know, it’s it’s part of the platform that I want to provide through this podcast. And a lot of the work we’re doing, it’s like for the people who can out themselves as either psychonauts or spiritualists. And and really, I would say like modern spiritualists, which is, you know, I don’t come across as a hippie. Maybe if you listen to this podcast, people think I’m really out there. But I think in most day to day conversations, I could come across as pretty normal and pretty relatable, even though that’s some of the views I have. I think a lot of modern Western life would be like, you’re weird, right? And I use that word very consciously and then so this is a real platform and an opportunity, and I use it as much as I can to bring about that conversation and saying it’s it’s OK to talk about your soul. It’s OK to talk about your future self. It’s OK to talk about your higher self and not just use those as conceptual constructs, but to accept them as truths, not be necessarily afraid of that. But I will ping pong. The question over to Dominique as well to get your thoughts on this. 

Dominique: It’s a really interesting question. And I guess I’m still at the point where Julie mentioned being maybe with the air quotes with my clients, because I have a lot of clients that very strongly identify as atheists and not just atheists, but strong atheists. And so I try to leave space in my work with people to kind of think about maybe not soul, but connection to this planet or the state that we’re in or like a community of people or like something bigger than themselves, even if it’s not a soul per se. But when people mention soul and work with me, I jump all over it to be honest. And I really love that and I get to run with it. And so I have found it’s been hard not to think about soul in work with psychedelics and work with alternate states of consciousness because you become so, I guess, directly faced with it. 

Ronan: Yeah, no, I totally hear you. And it came out of a conversation with someone who went through our treatments and she relayed to me that she had never tried psychedelics, at least larger doses before. But after she had had her ketamine experience, she found that she found the profound in the mundane. And it totally it really resonated with me because to some degree it’s like, yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of things that happen with psychedelics. But anyone who’s found that kind of beauty in something, everyone knows that energy. If you don’t, whatever you want to call it, that feeling, you know, of just being totally engrossed by something truly magical or beautiful or whatever descriptor you want to put around it. And it’s like when you’re in that space, it’s almost impossible to let all of those things that cause anxiety and depression and all of the mental health conditions that we talk about really start to infiltrate. And it’s hard to stay in that space. But touching that experience, even briefly, I think can be totally transformative. Like I’ve talked about how like I think beauty is a transformative energy when you experience it, it changes you and it doesn’t have to mean aesthetically beautiful. But you know, the feeling of something that’s beautiful and on an energetic level. And it’s part of the things that’s so exciting about psychedelics, but it takes the conversation a little bit further of like, is this just a biochemical experience or is it actually something truly profound? 

Dr. Julie Holland: I mean, even if it is just biochemical and physiological, it can still be truly profound. When you talk about the experiencing something magical in the mundane, I think about dehabituation, which is something that also happens with cannabis. Right? You can approach something with fresh eyes. I do consider cannabis to be sort of a minor psychedelic. It has a lot of features of psychedelic. I would say that high dose THC is pretty much psychedelic. You do end up getting sort of a tickling of the 5HD2A receptor. There’s a there’s a dimer. There’s a dimerization that happens between the CB1 receptor and the 5HD2A receptor if you give it enough THC. So this idea that cannabis is psychedelic, I think there’s a real sort of physiological fact beneath it. But anyway, my point of this is that cannabis, one of the things that cannabis does besides being a great anti-inflammatory and we all know that psychedelics are also great anti-inflammatories, like it’s this idea of fresh eyes, right, that you’re dehabituated. Then you look at something as if you’ve never seen it before. So that increases the likelihood that you will find that magic and beauty just because of the novelty. It’s more engaging you, you’re more likely to take another look. 

Ronan: I had that experience recently when I had used some cannabis, and I just got the sense that drugs almost worked like a filter. You know, they filter out certain energies or certain resonances and open you up to feel or see different ones or see the things in a different light. And that can be true about psychedelics. That can be true about cannabis. Truthfully, that can be true about alcohol and probably some more destructive drugs as well. 

Dr. Julie Holland: As much as I would say I’m I’m not the hugest fan of ketamine. I think ketamine has, it’s like the best thing we have right now. One of the best things I can say about ketamine is that it’s legal. It’s allowing us to create the infrastructure, to create the framework and to get people comfortable with the idea that you can take a medicine to help you have a better therapy session, I mean, Ronan and Dominique and I, this is not news to us, right? We get this. This is the future. But for people who just never even heard of it, it’s really like a paradigm shift. It’s like a disruptive way of doing psychiatry. Like what? You don’t take a daily dose of the medicine every day so that you don’t mind the way your life is. Like you take a big dose of something so you can really look at and fix your life like. And what’s great about ketamine is that because it’s FDA approved, because everybody’s comfortable with it, maybe even your insurance will reimburse you. It’s getting everything in place for what’s coming next, which will be so much better, which is MDMA, assisted therapy, psilocybin, assisted therapy like you think ketamine’s impressive. Wait till we show you what really works. 

Ronan: I agree. I mean, that’s always been the foundation of what we’ve been building a field trip. And truthfully, my attitude has changed and evolved even since we started, which I always saw ketamine as a stepping stone to the future of psychedelic therapies with psilocybin. But having witnessed the transformations that we’ve experienced in our clinic so far, I see it as as just one piece of an arsenal. You know, it’s kind of like you don’t go to the heaviest antibiotics for someone experiencing infection. You work up to it and so I’ve really kind of opened my mind that ketamine is an amazing and powerful tool. It’s it’s relatively safe and it’s a great, easy entry point into this kind of exploration. 

Dominique: I guess there’s all kinds of approaches. Some of my more scientifically identified clients are very stern with me about this. So so, yeah. So we honour where that where that is. I wanted to follow up on the ketamine piece because I was also in that in that kind of mind frame even before I started at Field Trip. And my thoughts and opinions have changed so hugely over the past year and witnessing all of the the stories and like the seeing the patients change profoundly. And I have so much more respect and I guess care for ketamine now than I did a year ago. And it blew my mind a little bit because I had come in with a particular, I guess, bias and perspective. And then when I actually saw how it was being used with the in the kind of experiences that people were having, the really deep plunging that took place and the way that the therapists were able to kind of work with people to pull the the insights and the stories. It was, I don’t know, has been very incredible. One therapist described it this morning with group session is like magical to questions. 

Ronan: How much flak did you get for the name Moody Bitches on a book? Did you get any pushback on that? Because I think it’s awesome. And then secondly, and I’ll just leave it with you to kind of go into this, can you take us into, like, the understanding of the yin and yang? I think for and I’m going to speak on behalf of a lot of men. As soon as they hear anything to do with feminine, they think of feminism and they get their backs up. And I see what we’re talking about, which is it’s not feminism. It’s about feminine energies and what that means and how we can all kind of move towards a more balanced state in a way that I think is healthy and productive and recognize the effects of chauvinism being what has imbalanced those masculine and feminine energies. 

Dr. Julie Holland: You’re right to ask those two questions together because they are absolutely connected. So what I I had a really good book proposal for a book called Moody Bitches and everybody I showed it to every agent, every editor, every publisher. They loved it. Everybody loved it. They didn’t want to change the title. They thought it was perfect. They thought it was funny and sharp and edgy. But when it actually got published, nobody wanted to walk around with a book that said Moody Bitches on it. And I assumed that it was the bitches that was an issue. But I have come to see that it is actually the word moody, which was more of a trigger for people that they didn’t want to identify as being moody. Anyway, it was totally a joke. I’m very jokey. I love to make jokes. It’s my defense mechanism. I’m usually being kind of sarcastic and tongue in cheek, but you can’t tell when it’s printed on the cover of a book. So people didn’t know that I was trying to be funny, but I think that this issue of yin suppression and what my partner Jeremy likes to call the cancer of Yang, first of all, I don’t usually say feminine or masculine energies, because if I if you just think of yin and yang, try not to think of gender at all. Really, that yang is the sort of penetrative energy. It’s like the the bullet or the arrow that goes out into the world. There’s a vector to it. It moves, it penetrates. Maybe shoot first, ask questions later. That’s kind of a yang energy and then a yin is more hanging back. Let’s be receptive. Let’s see what’s going on before we just act impulsively. Let’s gather information. Let’s integrate. It’s a receptive kind of energy. It doesn’t will have to be women or men. I mean, I’m I’m a young woman married to a young man, so we can disengage these things from gender. But what’s happened in our culture for a long time is that boys, were told, don’t cry, you know, be a man. But what I made the case in Moody Bitches is that eventually those messages that men were getting, the women started getting too. You’re in a man’s world so you’ve got to be yang and you’ve got to go after what you want. And you can’t be emotional and you can’t hesitate. And so we’ve all been getting these messages that to succeed in a capitalist society, you need yang energy. And so now we are imbalanced. And one of the things that psychedelics do and one of the things that cannabis does and one of the things that sex does and cuddling does and meditation does is it puts us in this sort of yin receptive, rest, digest, reflect, repair, kind of a state instead of. Fighting, attacking or running away, so that yin energy allows us to stay instead of attacking or fleeing, it allows us to stay. It allows us to stay in the room with our lovers when we’re having hard discussions. It allows us to stay with ourselves when we want to escape through drugs or alcohol or food or sex or shopping. And so we need more of that yin energy. And it has nothing really to do with men and women. We are out of balance. We are very yang heavy. There’s a cancer of yang and if you look at things like the military or fraternities and hazing or boardrooms, there’s this sort of culture of growth at any cost, which in medicine, by the way, growth at any cost, unrestricted growth. That’s what we call cancer. It’s not sustainable. Yin is sustainable. Yang is that you’re depleting your resources. 

Ronan: It does not need to be framed in terms of genderization, in terms of masculine, feminine. But, you know, one of the things that I’ve been thinking about is the implications of that distortion of the heavy overweights of yang, particularly in men, has also correspondingly created, I think, a counterpoint of the yin in women right? You see it particularly in professional context. It seems to be a common theme that women are afraid to ask for promotions or ask for raises, whereas men don’t, you know, it’s not exclusively so. But that seems to be a common theme. So there’s lots of implications of how this plays out. That does affect not uniformly, but does get expressed, I think, a lot through gender in our society. 

Dr. Julie Holland: I think it is important to have not just a gender balance and a showing up of people from the BIPOC community in the boardroom. But you really need like a yin presence in the boardroom. It’s true. If it’s just a bunch of yang women and a bunch of yang men, you still don’t have much balance. But I just I unfortunately, I think we’re still in a place where people do not prize yin energy, where they don’t prize people who kind of hang back and and aren’t immediately in the game. 

Dominique: I think I identify with Julie. I think I also have a lot of yang energy. But one thing that’s helped me bring more yin into my life has been meditation because I’ve been doing that every day now, like through the pandemic. And it really allows me to kind of stop shooting from the hip as much and like to kind of think, take a step back, process this situation in the whole and then kind of respond rather than react. But it is true. It’s it’s not necessarily as as valued. And I think yin voices tend to get muted. 

Ronan: In my conversation with Julie, we touched on the topic of yin and yang, or masculine and feminine energies at some length, and I think it’s a very important conversation to have. But I also think it’s important to not jump to some of the obvious conclusions that one might tend to jump to out of that conversation, specifically being let’s fix this, we just need more yin in this world. The truth is, I’m a big believer we need a better balance between yin and yang. But before anyone jumps to any action, I say chill out. As important as it is to recognize that more yin is needed. What I think is more important is to recognize that it’s easy to confuse symmetry with balance. That symmetry of yin and yang should not be the goal, but rather the balance of the two should be. And to achieve balance, sometimes asymmetries are needed. In fact, I would argue that most of the significant modern achievements in humanity and medicine have been achieved by a heavy overweight in yang or masculine energies. And that’s a wonderful thing. As a species, we are living longer than ever. Less people are in poverty or hungry than ever in history, and we have built technologies that are pushing the limits of objective physical reality. And much of that has been built on data, knowledge, creation and action. All typically yang energies, but we are also starting to see cracks from this imbalance of yin and yang. We are living longer, yes, but as evidenced by the global mental health crisis, we are pretty miserable. We have created amazing wealth and technologies, but we are also pushing the limits of what our round blue and green planet can provide. And so before we rush to fix the underrating of yin energies, which ironically would be a very yang thing to do, let’s start by taking a moment to just realize that we need a rebalancing and sit with that even for the briefest of moments, because, as Tom Robbins says, doesn’t matter how sensitive you are or how damn smart and educated you are if you’re not both at the same time, if your heart and your brain aren’t connected, aren’t working together harmoniously, well, you’re just hopping through life on one leg. You may think you’re walking. You may think you’re running a damn marathon, but you’re only on a hot trip. The connections got to be maintained. 

Ronan: So, Julie, you’re a doctor. You’re an academic. You’re an author from my read of things. And I certainly have not been able to go deep on all of your work. But from from what I’ve been able to glean, you’ve really been at the forefront and a very powerful voice on a lot of subjects that are taboo or, you know, words weren’t necessarily ready for for the current time from feminine power in the balancing of the yin and the yang to the cannabis to psychedelics. I want to ask, like, what’s what’s getting you out of bed this morning? It seems like you’ve been ahead of the curve on so many things. It’s like, what is the next thing? Or is like, is that enough right now? 

Dr. Julie Holland: Somebody asked me recently because she was like in a position of power and she’s like, What can I do for you? What can I get you? I was like, thank you. But I was like, I’m a I’m a middle aged mother of two. I’m a fifty five year old woman. And I have a lot of things that were really that were getting me up in the morning. For decades, are finally, have taken on a life of their own and have their own momentum and I don’t need to push them anymore. You know, and it’s incredibly gratifying for me to know that these things that I’ve been pushing for for 30 years, they’re going to happen. They are happening now. And I can I can pull back a little bit. So, you know what I’ve been really focusing on this past pandemic year is connection, oxytocin, how sort of disconnected we are, how entrenched in our laptops and phones we are. I’ve been making music every day with my husband and sometimes son and sometimes daughter that’s turned into like a daily discipline that that we are, we’re posting a song a day on Facebook and we’re recording music every day. And I’m going out in nature a lot. And my husband and I are really the thing that we are focusing on, because Jeremy has been really patient and I’m like after this book, OK, one more book and then we’ll do this. So he’s like, now is the time. So what we’re really focusing on now is diads couplehood how incredibly challenging it is, no matter how spiritually enlightened you think you are to stay in a relationship, to stay married, to come up against the their vision of you over and over like a mirror, basically, you know, when you’re in a relationship, somebody is always throwing a mirror up to you. You don’t always want to look in that mirror. So we’re trying to put something together about a couplehood. And we’re I think we’re really trying to write a book together, Jeremy and I. 

Ronan: What are your thoughts about what is happening with the current psychedelic renaissance? I think there are some suggestions about calling it a telescope process. But like what? What do you see that you like and what do you see that you don’t like about what’s happening and what gives you heartburn and keeps you up at night and what gives you a lot of hope and joy through what’s happening right now? 

Dr. Julie Holland: What keeps me up at night, really, it’s the it’s the territorial pissings. It’s the land grabs. It’s the intellectual property. It’s very yang behavior. It’s very capitalist behavior. It is not communal or social or yin. We all have these lessons that we’re supposedly learning from psychedelics about how we’re all one and love is the answer and everything is interconnected. And that separation is an illusion. Right? I mean, these are all like the basic things that you learn in a mystical experience. Then we go out into the world and say, this is mine, you can’t have it. So anti-competitive practices, patent disputes, all the stuff that’s good. I don’t think that you can patent psychotherapy. 

Ronan: And what gets you happy. Like what? Where do you see things going extremely well and being like besides the fact that it’s just happening, which is certainly, I think, something to appreciate. 

Dr. Julie Holland: But, you know, one of the things that gets me happy about 30 years ago, I went to the chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital, a guy named Ken Davis, who is now like the CEO of Mt. Sinai Medical. He’s really risen through the ranks. But I went to him and in 1992, right after the FDA allowed Charlie Grove to give MDMA to healthy normals. And I went back to Sinai and I was like, we need to do MDMA research. This is happening. It’s big. It’s exciting. And he was just like, there’s no way we’re ever doing that here. It’s not going to happen. Not in my backyard. Flash forward, thirty years later, and Mount Sinai Hospital is creating a center for psychedelic studies and looking at trauma and psychedelic psychotherapy. You know, I’ve been in touch with Rachel Yehuda and I keep saying, like, if there is a groundbreaking ceremony, if there is a party, I want to be there. And then the other thing that makes me happy is when is when women are getting recognized and when women are being given the same sort of platforms that the men are getting. You know, if you watch a documentary about psychedelics, any news story about psychedelics, and I love these guys. I’ve known Rick like thirty five years or something crazy like that since 1985. You know, I love him. He’s done a lot. He gets a lot of credit. He should get a lot of credit. But you know who’s behind Rick? You know who runs MAPS? It’s a bunch of women, you know, who runs Hopkins’? Any time you kind of peel back the curtain, the guy who’s being interviewed and taking credit is that there’s just like there’s a lot of people behind them that they deserve some time in the spotlight, so that would make me happy if if more women were being featured. 

Dominique: Yeah, I really second a lot of what Julie said about the issues with the competition and secrecy and and just like that territorialism. And I’m really working with a lot of people to try to combat that, I would say, and try to keep that like spirit of what we’re doing, that connectedness, that kind of joint mission or a shared vision alive. I think what’s also been a sticking point is a lot of confusion and maybe disagreement or lack of light on issues around accessibility and cultural considerations and appropriations and use of like religion and spiritual traditions and or lack of use of them and an integration of those two things. And in research and practice. And I’m really hopeful that we can figure out a way to open open this space up for everybody who needs it and honor all of the different paths that people are coming towards this point on. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Yeah, I think the accessibility issue is really a big deal. You know, access the people who are the most marginalized, most traumatized, the most in need of this medicine are in many cases, the people who are least likely to actually get it. 

Ronan: Yeah, it’s a it’s a big challenge and it’s something that we talk about. And I don’t have a great answer about how you go about doing it. There’s there’s no simple answer, as far as I can tell. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Well, I do think one one big hurdle that if we can get over will really make a difference is insurance reimbursement. Right, I mean, I get that not everybody has health insurance, but if we can start with creating a code to actually get reimbursed by the insurance companies and obviously more people need to be insured or God forbid, we should just have national health care, but then it becomes much more accessible to many people. So, I mean, this issue of equity and access, we should probably mention that there is such a thing as racial trauma that people who are who are experiencing micro or macro aggressions related to their race, like these people, are traumatized on a daily basis. And it would really be great if we can focus on sort of treating victims of racial trauma and to show that things like ketamine, assisted psychotherapy, psilocybin as a psychotherapy, MDMA, assisted psychotherapy, that these things really have the capacity to help heal. 

Dominique: And also building capacity in BIPOC communities like to be the therapists and and be the people working. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Definitely. 

Ronan: Question I have and it may be inflammatory, but I’m asking it just because I’m still trying to wrap my head around that is like I read somewhere a quote that said, there are many ways to victimize a person. And one of the most insidious is to convince them that they’re a victim. And it comes to the question of like trauma, which is that there is racial trauma. There’s no doubt about that. Maybe everybody’s a victim of racial trauma. I don’t know. One of the things I get concerned about is like if I don’t perceive myself as a victim of racial trauma, I don’t like to be categorized that way. And again, I’m speaking from the perspective of the successful white guy in this world. So my perspective is probably very skewed. But it is one of those things that I wrestle with, which is, you know, in the context of Field Trip, it’s like I don’t want to call any of our patients, patients because just by calling them a patient, you’ve created a narrative about who they are and where they are. And it’s putting something on them. Same with, you know, saying someone’s a victim of trauma. It’s kind of like the old expression that like by physics, bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly, but they don’t know that. So they go ahead and keep on flying. And I’m just always kind of thinking about how do you balance that? Or maybe it doesn’t need to be balanced. Maybe I’m entirely wrong in thinking that there’s a conversation there, but I’d really be curious to hear your thoughts on that. 

Dr. Julie Holland: It is a good point. I mean, even just saying doctor-patient, you’re disempowering half of the people in that group. So it is true that the word client really gives people more power. And I also sort of think about, you know, everybody has some trauma. And even if for some reason you had an amazingly perfect childhood, you may have epigenetic trauma, like maybe Ronan, you had an easy time of it, but your great grandfather was murdered in a pogrom or something. There are still situations where even though you don’t have it too tough or maybe you feel privileged, if you go back a few generations, you were persecuted. So, I mean, there is there is this issue of epigenetic trauma. But I do agree with that. You want to empower people as much as possible and that and you don’t want to assume that somebody is the victim of anything unless that is how they’re identifying, because it does take away their their power for that narrative, I agree. 

Dominique: And the impact of trauma is often on the resources that someone has to kind of face that trauma. And so 10 people could be at the same event or have the same thing happen to them. And they might have very different responses based on their genetics, their epigenetics, their resilience strategies that they’ve developed, their coping skills, the sourcing and community around them. And so it’s really about never putting trauma on someone, but being there to receive it and support when someone wants support. 

Dr. Julie Holland: It’s a great sort of experiment was my experiment. But this idea that everyone is being traumatized at once with covid, it’s an evil experiment, you know, but everyone is affected. I mean, unless you don’t believe in it and maybe that’s that, maybe then you really have no trauma at all. You’re like, what? There’s no virus. This is a hoax. And then you go about your business and you’re fine. The fact of covid is applied evenly, but the effect of covid obviously isn’t applied evenly. And so it is sort of an experiment to see how people handle trauma. And, you know, like my patients who are who are privileged and have money and they’re know they’re seeing a private psychiatrist, some of them handle it better than others. But almost all of my patients, if you scratch a little, I’m I’m OK. I’m OK. But then you scratch a little more and it’s like, well, you know, I have gained 20 pounds or well, you know, I’m I’m smoking pot every day or I’m drinking every night or eating junk food. I never used to do that. Like, you know, you do start to get a sense of how people are dealing. 

Ronan: It is a huge global experiment that’s happening right now. And I agree with you. It’s like everyone’s affected by this. You can’t even even if you’re a denier, you know, people who aren’t deniers and therefore it’s affecting your relationships. And so that’s a universal experience right now to some degree. And it’s like as negative and as traumatizing as it has been. I also tried to see the silver lining in this, which is like it is forcing people to confront their demon right? Like it’s basically brought all of your issues or not all of your issues. But some of your issues have come to the surface. It’s like smacking you in the face and like it’s time to deal with your social anxiety. It’s time to deal with your financial anxiety. It’s time to deal with your agoraphobia or anything else. And and so it’s also been a great pause in a very productive way. And it sounds like you touched on this earlier, Julie, but I’d love to go into a little bit more. It’s like I’ve spent a lot of time because a lot of my shit came up very early on. Humans are remarkably resilient and so, like, everyone’s probably found a pretty good new groove, even if it’s not ideal. And certainly I have. But at the beginning, there was a lot of stuff coming up for me out of this. Like I feel like I’ve actually had a lot of growth. Like I feel like my relationship with with Stephanie, my wife, is that much stronger, even though at times it was that much more rocky. You know, my relationships with my friends have gone deeper, you know, as we’ve gone through this process together. So it sounds like you’ve resorted to singing as as your mechanism to sort of find growth in this. But curious to know, like, what you’ve really found or what came up for you as you’ve gone through this process. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Well, I did put on a little weight, I will admit, not a lot, but like, I definitely am allowing myself to eat like. Cheese puffs and cheese its crackers and chocolate, I never, ever eat, pasta, bread, never eat it. I’ve been eating it for about a year. Not crazy, but like just that seems to help balance things out somehow. So I soothe myself orally as many people do. And then I’m just I’m trying to to do cardio. But mostly the two things that have really saved me are I get out in nature a lot. I live we’ve got 12 acres of woods that abut against 60 more acres of woods. We’ve got a lake across the street, a really beautiful swamp. The wetlands are gorgeous, there’s lots of birds. So, like, I have access to nature. And speaking of nature, I have access to cannabis. And for me, a little bit of well-placed cannabis really helps with resilience and sort of stress tolerance. 

Ronan: Dominique, what about yo?  What what kind of awarenesses have come up for you? 

Dominique: I am working too much, probably. I think it’s interesting. I’m having, like, my own health care providers, like confiding in me about their struggles because I think, like, this point of it affecting everybody is really true. I see, like everybody, all the and all the care providers really struggling. And a lot of my friends that are mental health practitioners, too, are just like I’m burnt man. And so, like taking extra good care has been something that’s been absolutely, non-negotiable throughout this period, but it’s challenging a lot of us don’t have the balance that we used to have with different kinds of activities, things getting us out of the house. For me, getting outside into sunshine every day has been really, really, really, really important. I think actually your point to social anxiety before, like all my clients with social anxiety are having a ball this year because they do not have to deal with it at all. And so I’m a little worried about like post-pandemic when that kind of comes full circle again. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Yeah, the other thing that I wrote about a little bit and moody bitches I touched on in the last chapter was that if you dig down a little bit, people who really care about environmental issues are in mourning for the planet and afraid of what’s what’s to become of the human race, that sort of thing. So I think that all that stuff is really all still there because people don’t they don’t talk about it. They’re not in touch with it. But it’s almost like one of these background apps that’s always sort of running is that on some level you look around and, you know, it’s not sustainable, know the way that we’re treating the planet, it’s not sustainable. And so that that makes me a little bit anxious and depressed if I tap into it. 

Ronan: Julie, you’ve been very generous with your time, and I know Dominique, I asked this question before, so you don’t have to weigh into it. But the title of this podcast is Field Tripping, Epic Trips in Psychedelics. And one of the things that we’ve touched on in passing, I think in this conversation, but I’d love to go a little bit more explicit, is helping people understand that psychedelic experiences, A) aren’t these always hugely relevant moments where you meet God or you meet aliens and everything is different, but it can actually be very, very constructive and meaningful and incremental to your lives. And so one of the questions I asked our guest is like, what has been one of the most important lessons or takeaways that you’ve taken out of your psychedelic experiences in the past? 

Dr. Julie Holland: Let’s see. I am the God of my own universe was a big one when I was in in high school. I really I really had a very strong sensation in an early trip in high school that reality is what you make it. And I can I can decide what the rules are. And it’s also this this idea that, like everything is connected and I am connected to everything. And Alex Grey talked about once this idea that there’s like a universal lattice work of sort of electric energy that connects everything. But I had a sense of everything being sort of connected but but me belonging in that connection, you know, like I am a child of the universe. I have a right to be here. You know, I’m just as important as that as that tree, that kind of thing. So just just sort of the interdependence of everything. But, you know, I have to say that actually my most profound experiences, as much as I would love to say that they came from LSD or psilocybin or 5MEODMT or ayahuasca, and I have had very profound psychedelic experiences. But the thing that really shifted a lot for me was, was my MDMA, my early MDMA experiences, and really getting a better sense of sort of self-analysis and how I tick and what makes me work. And just I felt like I was sort of got a user manual a little bit and just was really, really useful information for me. 

Dominique: One thing that comes up in this conversation is honestly that, you know, some of my most profound experiences have been from alternate states of consciousness that aren’t necessarily psychedelic, like, you know, substance-induced. But but I think there’s all different kinds of experiences for all these different states. But in like breath work and meditation and in nature and in states of flow and in all of these kinds of things, as well as with psychedelics, that feeling of connection like that, I mean, it’s like these universal things that come up, the feeling of connection to being part of something and also having that in the same ways that you guys were talking about the partner as being the mirror, like having that experience often be the mirror as to what’s going on with you and in any given moment and in in a time period. And I feel like, you know, these experiences put you face to face with whatever you need to work on and whatever’s  still keeping you stuck and holding you back and and then that integration is so important. So it’s almost like a map for me to have these experiences and to say, OK, time to go in again. And it’s not like it’s necessarily fun. In fact, it’s often very hard. And you have to garner some courage and some bravery to go there and say, all right, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to learn again, prepare, launch, all right, here we are. OK, phew? And then and then taking the space after taking the time after to really get into yourself. Really? Be creative and spend some time processing what just happened. What insights did you gain and then how how is that going to impact your life? Is that going to change anything? You know, I once asked a group of people in a pool and this was sort like a breath work retreat. Like what has changed for you as a result of doing psychedelics or doing breathwork. Like what actually has changed for you in your life? How what do you do differently now? You know, and people actually had a hard time answering it. And so I tried to bring that to my own spaces, like, what do I want to be different as a result of this? How do I want to interact with the world differently? And what do I want to change in the world? 

Ronan: Yeah, and the truth is, it’s ineffable. It’s like it’s not it’s not necessarily being able to point to like this is how my life is better. It’s like I just feel better. It’s like and that should be good enough. But in our society it really often is not a good enough answer. But maybe it should be. 

Dr. Julie Holland: Yeah, well I think it is it’s hard not to sound like a hippie when you are coming away with universal truths. And honestly, I will say, as for the hippies, the hippies were right, the hippies were right about kombucha and sprouted grains and the hippies were right about macrobiotic eating and the hippies were right about free love and all sorts of other things. So it’s too bad that sounding like a hippie is such a terrible thing, because I think that the more that we can approximate hippie behavior, the happier we’re going to be. 

Ronan: I’ve long felt like I was a hippie in a previous life because I’ve always been so fascinated by so much of what that experience must have been. But on that note, I want to thank you so much for joining me and us on the podcast today. I’ve incredibly enjoyed it. I’ve found it to be incredibly insightful and immersive. So thank you and keep up the good work and I’m going to check out some of your music online. And I can’t wait to hear about the forthcoming awareness and insights about what it means to be in a diad. Also a word I don’t think I’ve ever used in conversation. 

Dr. Julie Holland: But now you will. It’s a great word. 

Dr. Julie Holland: After sitting down with Julie and Dominique four key things stood out to me first, the world needs more people like Dr. Julie Holland, Julie is, credentialled, thoughtful, considerate and frankly, right on most issues she advocates around. She is a force of nature that blends yin and yang in a way that creates powerful, meaningful impact. On that note, even though I agree with so much of what Julie said, there is one area in which I disagree with her on slightly. But that’s probably more a limitation of the conversation than probably what she meant. Julie seemed to suggest that the world needs more yin energy, the energies associated with conception, reception, contemplation and awareness as opposed to the yang energies of creation, knowledge and action. If you have trouble conceiving what these energies are, just imagine the stereotypical image of little boys and girls. Boys, and this is not an absolute statement by any stretch, tend to be more gregarious, destructive and loud. Girls tend to be more reserved, quiet and contemplative. This is not a perfect analogy, but it helps one understand the difference between yin and yang energies. In any event, where I disagree with Julie is that she says that the world needs more yin energy. My disagreement is that a more accurate statement is that each of us individually needs a better balance between yin and yang, feminine and masculine. Having five billion people, heavy onion and five billion people heavy on Yang would not serve us as well as having 10 billion people on this planet well adopted at integrated logic and emotion. That’s the balance we are trying to achieve. On that note, I think it’s important that we come to recognize how religion has played an important part in how the imbalance of yin and yang occurred. Julie mentioned the term religious trauma. Here’s how Tom Robbins articulated it. To diminish the worth of women, men had to diminish the worth of the moon. They had to drive a wedge between human beings and the trees and the beasts and the waters, because trees and beasts and waters are as loyal to the moon as to the sun, they had to drive a wedge between thought and feeling. At first, they used Apollo as the wedge and the abstract logic of Apollo made a mighty wedge indeed. But Apollo, the artist, maintain a love for women, not the open, unrestrained lust that Pann has, but a controlled longing that undermined the patriarchal ambition. When Christ came along, Christ, who slept with no female Christ, who played no musical instrument, recited no poetry and never kicked up his heels by moonlight. This Christ was the perfect wedge. Christianity is merely a system for turning priestesses into handmaidens, queens into concubines, and goddesses into muses. To be clear, I’m not trying to criticize religion, though I frankly do have many concerns about modern religion. 

Dr. Julie Holland: But this is an opportunity to learn from the past. Finally, my favorite moment in our conversation came out when Julie said the hippies were right. I’ve always been a fan of what the hippie movement was and stood for, despite it losing its way. But even I was always hesitant to be so declarative on the subject, fearing back lash. I will be no longer. The hippies were right on so many issues. As Tom Robbins said, like the Arthurian years at Camelot, the 60s constituted a breakthrough, a fleeting moment of glory, a time when a significant little chunk of humanity briefly realized its moral potential and flirted with its neurological destiny, a collective spiritual awakening that flared brilliantly until the barbaric and mediocre impulses of the species drew tight once more, the curtains of darkness. Right on, man. 

Ronan: Thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host, Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious, breathe properly, and remember, every day is a field trip if you let it be one. Field Trip is created by Ronan Levy and produced by Conrad Page. Our researcher is Sharon Bella. Special thanks to Quill. And of course, many thanks to Dr. Julie Holland for joining me today. To learn more about Julie and her work. Check out her website, naturalmood.com, or follow her on Twitter @BellevueDoc. Finally subscribe to our podcast and sign up for the newsletter at fieldtripping.fm.